Archive for the Mika Hijii Category

Review: Ninja: Shadow of a Tear (2013)

Posted in Isaac Florentine, Kane Kosugi, Kazu Tang, Mika Hijii, Ron Smoorenburg, Scott Adkins, Tim Man on March 17, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Scott Adkins, Kane Kosugi, Mika Hijii, Patrick Kazu Tang, Shun Sugata, Ron Smoorenburg, Jawed El Berni, Tim Man

Fight Choreography by Tim Man

Directed by Isaac Florentine

The original Ninja film was a breath of fresh air. Not only did it bring the ninja back in a big way (Ninja Assassin notwithstanding), but also continued to upward rise of martial arts star Scott Adkins and helmer Isacc Florentine after the classic Undisputed 3. Afterward came a little Indonesian film called The Raid, that upped the ante for everyone. Now we return to the adventures of Casey Bowman and his now wife Namiko (Hijii), and what ensues is a tonally different film than the comic-book style of the original.

Adkins returns as Casey Bowman, who, since the previous film, has married his deceased Sensei’s daughter Namiko and taken control of the Takeda Dojo. Namiko, who is now pregnant, asks Casey to go to the store to get chocolate and seaweed, and Casey returns to fine Namiko murdered by an assailant with a barbed chain weapon. During her funeral Nakabara, an old friend of the clan (Kosugi) shows up to offer his condolences, and to offer Casey a place to train and clear his head, at his Indonesian Dojo. Casey does so, but not before beating the daylights out of an entire dojo plus two thugs he believes were in on it. The thugs reveal that Boss Goro, a Japanese drug lord in Burma, had murdered Namiko. This takes Casey on a whirlwind trip of revenge, but fight after fight brings him closer to his target, who may not be the only villain responsible for Namiko’s death…

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Ninja 2 is a far darker film that the previous movie, but that’s to the film’s advantage. Scott Adkins returns as a far more vengeful Casey, and his kills are much more brutal than anything he did in the original film. Adkins’ acting is getting better and better with each film, and he does an even better job of conveying Casey’s emotions as his world falls apart. The only thing I miss is the Hugh Jackman Wolverine jacket he wore in the first film! Kane Kosugi does a good job here as well, and I was happy to see Kane in a good film. I hope that he teams up with Florentine again in a film he can star in. Kane’s skills have always been exemplary, but his film choices have left a lot to be desired. Shun Sugata is also good as Goro, and I smiled as he channelled several of Sonny Chiba’s mannerisms into his fight style. If I have a true issue with the film is that there wasn’t enough action with Casey in his ninja outfit.

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The fights by Tim Man is the star attraction here, and rightly so. There are a ton of fights in this film, and each one has a different dynamic and aesthetic, and the first fights involving Patrick Kazu Tang are great, but it’s only a hint at the things to come. A too-short fight that included Ron Smoorenburg (Who am I?) and a great fight between Casey Bowman and a fellow student Lucas (el Berni) leads to the two big fights in the film: Scott Adkins vs Tim Man, in a stunningly great looking fight, full of acrobatics and martial arts mastery, but the best is truly saved for last. Scott Adkins vs. Kane Kosugi is one of those fights I’ve always wanted to see (check that off my bucket list!) and it does not disappoint! Both men bring their all to the fight, and is a showcase of their martial arts at their prime. Can we please get Kane Kosugi into a film of his own?

Ninja 2 leaves Casey Bowman in a strange place. His wife and her father are gone. Casey, the man without a family, has lost his. What comes next? It will be fun to see where Casey the ninja goes from here.

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Full of exciting fights and Scott Adkins at his best, the showdown versus Kane Kosugi is worth the price of admission alone!

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Scott Adkins vs. Kane Kosugi! The Trailer for Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear!

Posted in Kane Kosugi, Mika Hijii, Ron Smoorenburg, Scott Adkins with tags , on September 9, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

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Scott Adkins, how we’ve missed you! While we all await Undisputed 4 (if it still happens) we return to one of Scott’s other popular characters, Casey the Ninja, who looks to have settled in with Mika Hijii from the events of the previous film, but you know in action hero realm that means the family has gotta get jacked up so the hero can return to action, and he does so here. The action looks less comic-booky and more Ong Bak-ish than the previous film, but you’ll get no complaints from me. Adkins looks to be in fine form. Toss in a fight with Ron Smoorenburg (Who Am I?) and what looks like a bigger budget, and we have the makings of a great martial arts film! Check out the trailer below!

Review: Ninja (2009)

Posted in Fumio Demura, Isaac Florentine, Mika Hijii, Reviews, Scott Adkins, Tsuyoshi Ihara with tags , , , on December 31, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Scott Adkins, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Mika Hijii

Fight Choreography by Akahiro Noguchi

Directed by Isaac Florentine

After toiling away in DTV films and rising up, going from thug#3 to badass thug #1 to lead henchman and finally to main bad guy, Scott Adkins has paid his dues. Thanks to Undisputed 2 Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White scored a hit film that brought them to the fore of martial arts films, and showed that Isaac Florentine is the best director for English-speaking martial arts films anywhere. Adkins and Florentine team up once again to bring us Ninja in Adkins’ first starring role. So does he hit or miss as a leading man?

In my humble opinion, Hell Yeah, He’s a Hit.

Adkins stars as Casey Bowman, an American orphan in Japan who was taken in by a ninja dojo, and raised there by the Sensei. Now an adult, and old enough to become a Soke (master of the dojo) if his Sensei deems him worthy, is also in love with the Sensei’s daughter Namiko, which irks his chief rival, Masazuka, to no end, primary because he’s a dick of incredible proportions who wants control of the dojo, Namiko, and the Yoroi Bitsu, the last set of ninja armor and weapons from the Koga ninja clan that is centuries old.

Since we know Masazuka is a little bitch you know he’d have to try to start some shit with Casey, and he does so during a sparring match with Casey, which is a fantastic fight that spirals out of control when Masazuka escalates the violence by attacking Casey with a real sword, which brings him dishonor to the clan, and the Sensei expels Masazuka, who is cast out in disgrace. We then fast forward to “some time later” and we meet a cult that looks like a group of reject bad guys from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, dressing like they shopped the bargain bin at Hot Topic, and they are using Masazuka’s skills as a ninja to off their rivals, and we get an example of this in Russia, where we get cool, bloody scene of Masazuka assassinating an oil magnate who is making a merger deal with another oil company.

Soon Masazuka turns his attentions to the dojo, and returns, threatening the school that he would have the Yoroi Bitsu. The Sensei, knowing this crazy jackass means it, sends the Yoroi Bitsu, along with his daughter and Casey to New York to be taken in by a University professor friend of the Sensei’s. Sure enough Masazuka arrives at the dojo, and in a thrilling, well-choreographed weapons fight in the rain, Masazuka kills over a dozen of the students, and finally the Sensei himself, and learns the whereabout of the Yoroi Bitsu, and with the help of the Temple Cult, goes after it, and Casey is the only one who can stop him…

Folks, this is a really fun, comic-booky kind of ninja film. Some things, like the Temple cult, are ridiculous, but we know they are there for Casey to beat up on, which he does, and does well. The fights range from good to great, and the best fight is the Temple fight with Casey beating down over fifteen guys, and his final fight with Masazuka and the Temple thugs. The choreography is fast and fluid, with the best of the Hong Kong films, and Adkins proves he’s up to the challenge. He has this rare mixture of grace and speed, as well as acrobatics and strength. His acting is okay, and I would place that on the same level as a Jean Claude Van Damme or Seagal. In other words, just fine for a martial arts film. You may also recognize the jacket he’s wearing. It’s the same jacket Hugh Jackman wore in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Adkins did the stunt double work for both Wolverine and Weapon X.

Casey’s final fight with Masazuka featured a bit more wirework than I would have liked, but fits the comic book nature of the film. Tsuyoshi Ihara is great as the slimy villain, and arguably does a better acting job than Adkins. It should be noted that Ihara is the star pupil of legendary martial arts screen fighter Yasuaki Kurata (Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars, Heroes of the East)

You may also recognize Fumio Demura who plays Shihan Dei. He did all of the stuntwork for Pat Morita in the Karate Kid films, and performs great here, even having a few fight scenes for himself.

Florentine continues his great run with fantastic camera work, knowing where to have the scene edited and shots long choreographed scenes. He understands what martial arts film fans want to see, and gives it to them as much as possible.

If you want a fun, not so serious ninja film, with good fight choreography and a rising star in Scott Adkins, you’ve found it!

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) This is some great stuff here. Noguchi has the fights going at Hong Kong speed, and is fluid and simple yet complex at the same time.

STUNTWORK: (7) These guys really tossed themselves around and took a couple of nasty drops. Adkins has a lot of acrobatic scenes and Ihara has some good stuff here, too. Bear in mind that many of the stunts in the dojo attack scenes were performed by real black belts.

STAR POWER: (9) Scott Adkins jumps right alongside the best English-speaking action stars, and Ihara is just starting, and he looks to be a force on his own in the future.

FINAL GRADE:(9) A great ninja film that is fun and full of great fights, and a good hint that things to come for Scott Adkins and Tyoshi Ihara. Note to Hollywood: Give Scott Adkins a great action role! This guy is ready to be a star!